Seeking Local SEO Help

Posted by on Mar 19, 2013 in Local Advertising | 1 comment

Written by Jean Steckler
Steckler eMarketing, Westfield NJ 07090

Running a local restaurant, law practice, career consultants, recruiters and other local businesses are labor-intensive endeavors. Additional demands to the heavy workload can spread staff thin, jeopardizing the quality of both their day job and the quality of their marketing efforts. Each business needs a local online presence that is top notch – literally. Any drop in search engine rankings directly translates to drop in business.
For this reason, the more successful local restaurants and law practices contract with experienced web developers and search engine optimize (SEO) experts who provide:

  • An SEO plan
  • SEO improvements to their website
  • Search engine advertising campaigns
  • Plans and implementation for email marketing 
  • Campaigns to generate positive reviews 
  • Referral campaigns
  • Leveraged social media
  • Listings on the hundreds of local directories, community sites, and local classified ads
  • Build the site’s trust and domain authority
  • Ongoing reputation monitoring

Initial SEO Campaign Build (2 months)

The initial two months in building a strong SEO profile involve concentrated work that touches all aspects of the site’s infrastructure, page contents, search engine advertising, search engine listings, local directory listings. An abbreviated outline of tasks involved for each follows.

Site Infrastructure

  1. Check web site for design issues and server errors (e.g. Javascript files embedded incorrectly, poor navigational structure, content falling “below the fold”). We will examine at how your server is set-up and make changes as necessary.
  2. Set up robots.txt files to identify which web pages should not be indexed by search engines
  3. Build sitemap.xml for pages, videos, and images. Submit sitemaps to search engines.
  4. Obtain Google Analytics access if activated. If not, set up Google Analytics account to monitor site performance.
  5. Set up permanent 301 redirects
  6. Create custom 404 error pages to respond to people or sites who use incorrect urls
  7. Set up canonical tags to reconcile multiple website addresses (,, This avoids the site from being indexes as multiple sites with duplicate content, which hurts organic rankings.

Page Contents

  1. Research keyword phrases 
  2. Each page is optimized for one keyword. Title and description meta tags for each page are organized around the keyword selected to be optimized for that page.
  3. Review/update image descriptions in meta alt text tags
  4. Optimize Header Tags (H1, H2, etc.)
  5. Audit pages for duplicate content

Build Site Trust and Authority

High organic ranking in online search page results is determined by the Trust, domain and page authority of your pages. Getting links to your websites from other highly ranked domains improve your domain and page authority. Some of these highly trusted domains include:

  • Better Business Bureau
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Visitors Bureau
  • Open Directory Project (
  • Distribution of press releases to AP Newswire service and PR web sites
  • Participation in blogs with link backs to the restaurant sites from your signature
  • Optimized Google+ business profile
  • Flickr photo albums

Search Engine Advertising Campaign

The initial online marketing setup also includes building an effective of a Pay Per Click search engine marketing campaign, which is then continuously monitored and revised based on performance. Restaurants should have at least two campaigns – one that is optimized for desktop computers and another that is optimized for smartphones. Setting up campaigns involves the following tasks:

  1. Develop a keyword portfolio
  2. Identify negative keywords or those words where your ad should not be shown
  3. Write ad copy
  4. Determine appropriate campaign extensions and options (e.g. click to call)
  5. Assign bids to comply with budget constraints
  6. Measure, optimize, and repeat

Local Directories

Local directories provide quality inbound links for the business website and opportunities to garner customer reviews. A comprehensive list of local directories is provided in the Appendix.

We recommend using a consistent listing profile across all of the local listing directories where the restaurant name (include keyword such as Italian), physical address, description, hours, accepted payments, photos, awards, videos, and phone numbers are consistently displayed. It is also recommended that patrons be encouraged to write positive reviews on the directories by:

  • Requests on menus
  • Postcards at tables
  • Email campaigns
  • Local print ads

Regional Directory Listings

Provide paid and unpaid listings in regional listings such as:

  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Visitors Bureau

Ongoing Monthly Optimization

A continuous, ongoing effort is dedicated to build the site’s trust and authority with search engines. Search engines develop trust for sites as the number of inbound links from other trusted authoritative sites grows, and for local businesses, as the number of positive customer reviews grow.  In addition to search ranks, SEO consultants improve business activity through local online classified ads, email campaigns, nurturing programs, public relations, blogging and microblogging.
Email Campaigns

  1. Create address lists
  2. Create editorial calendar (content & schedule) of email blasts (e.g. holiday reminders to make reservations, celebrity appearances, specials)
  3. Contract with email service provider
  4. Design email layout
  5. Write series of emails & schedule

Message Board Curating

Posting comments in relevant, quality message boards with links back to the business’s website also helps develop a network of quality inbound links to improve the site’s overall trust and domain authority in the eyes of the search engines. This effort involves:

  1. Identify appropriate message boards
  2. Create accounts
  3. Identify relevant threads
  4. Respond to posts with signature including email address & website address

Summing Up

Ironically, SEO for local businesses actually requires more effort than SEO for national businesses. Since there is no single directory that people use, getting listed with accurate information on the most relevant local directories, regional directories, and vertical directories requires time and patience. However the investment rewards those businesses which do and separates leaders from laggards.

Jean Steckler
Steckler eMarketing

One Comment

  1. Annual Survey of Top 20 Local Search Ranking Factors:

Share This